May 11th brought about one of the most unusual events we’ve ever witnessed! A massive grass fire in the Texas Panhandle southeast of Amarillo generated a pyrocumulus cloud. This cloud forms due to intense heat causing the air to rise and condense into a cumulus cloud. What we had never seen before was one of the pyrocumulus cloud grow to such enormous proportions that it was able to move away from it’s heat source and continue to grow, eventually turning into a supercell! Amazing! This storm would move all the way to the Oklahoma border before dying. It produced enormous amounts of cloud to ground lightning, which in turn sparked over a dozen new fires! It also produced hail the size of golfballs! Strange, beautiful and bizarre!!!!
What a fun week this turned out to be! Our tour company, Silver Lining Tours, is going to operate a new tour called Desert Thunder in 2008. So, my wife Caryn and I, along with our good friend Alister Chapman headed to Tucson to film the monsoon storms. We were NOT disappointed! During an active monsoon, as this was, storms formed daily off the higher terrain east of south of Tucson, then propagated and rebuilt on thunderstorm outflow winds, on the desert flatlands. These storms a extremely photogenic, producing intense lighting, haboobs (dirt storms, some QUITE dangerous as you will see below), and flash flooding. This turned out to be one of my favorite NON-tornadic ventures of the year.